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Iran, Iraq meet on fate of war’s missing

Iran and Iraq have met to discuss efforts to determine the fate of people that went missing during the eight years of the Iraqi imposed war on Iran.

On October 16, Baghdad and Tehran signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at determining the fate of the missing during the 1980-1988 war with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“Over 20 years have passed since the war ended, and tens of thousands of Iranian and Iraqi families … still do not know what happened to their missing loved ones,” ICRC senior deputy head of operations for the Middle East Eric Marclay said on Thursday.

“We very much welcome the progress achieved, and the commitment and determination of the authorities on both sides,” AFP quoted Marclay as saying.

Over a million people are believed to have been killed in the course of the war that began when former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein launched surprise aerial attacks against Iran in 1980.

Although no generally accepted number of missing people exists, estimates range in the hundreds of thousands on both sides, many of whom are civilians. Mass graves from the war are still found in Iraq, many containing the bodies of Iranian prisoners.

Iran and Iraq signed an agreement in 2008 to expedite the long-stalled search for missing people from both sides with the help of the ICRC.

Since the agreement was signed, the remains of more than 250 individuals have been repatriated between Iran and Iraq under the ICRC auspices, and information has been obtained on the fate of more than 2,000 missing people, the ICRC reported.

The two countries insist that they no longer have prisoners of war and have pledged further cooperation on the issue. In June, they agreed to work together to clear mines left over from the devastating eight-year war.

Relations between the two neighbors have improved since Saddam Hussein was ousted in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion of the country.

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